(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recently issued guidance to state and local workforce agencies and boards related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I Youth Program, providing specific details on participant eligibility, program design and funding, competitive procurement and program elements.
The document was ETA’s third such guidance on the program; it issued two other guidance letters in 2015 discussing the transition of the program under former Workforce Investment Act (WIA) regulations to WIOA (Pub. L. 113-128), which became law in July 2014. WIOA provides a framework through which state and local governments can leverage federal, state, local and philanthropic resources to support services for in-school youth and out-of-school youth, including skills training, enrollment in postsecondary education and employment assistance.
The guidance notes that different eligibility criteria apply to in-school youth and out-of-school youth. If a youth is enrolled in the WIOA youth program during the summer and is between school years, or if he or she is enrolled in the program between high school graduation and postsecondary education, the youth is considered an in-school youth. However, if the youth graduates high school and registers for postsecondary education, but does not ultimately follow through with attending postsecondary education, then he or she would be considered an out-of-school youth if the eligibility determination is made after the point that the youth decided not to attend postsecondary education.
To be eligible to participate in the WIOA youth program, individuals must meet one or more of the eligibility barriers listed under Section 129(a) of WIOA. The guidance further defines these barriers, which include individuals with limited knowledge of the English language; school dropouts; criminal offenders; homeless and foster care youth; individuals who are pregnant or are parents; or other individuals “who require additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program or to secure or hold employment.”
When determining whether an individual is low income, a state or local workforce area must consider whether the participant is an in-school youth or out-of-school youth. If he or she is an out-of-school youth, the low-income requirements apply only if the youth is: (1) a recipient of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent who is either basic skills deficient or an English language learner; and (2) an individual who requires additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program or to secure or hold employment. All in-school youth must be low-income unless they are served under a 5 percent exception rule defined in 20 C.F.R. Part 681.250(c).
(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)